Built Vancouver: Gloucester Pavilion


The Gloucester Pavilion is a summer-long design build project completed by Masters of Architecture students Jordan A. Grubner and Rachel Kao, installed on Gloucester Estates in Langley. Their work was conducted with the Directed Studies program offered by the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA).

Gloucester Pavilion in Gloucester Industrial Estates, Langley. Designed by Jordan A. Grubner and Rachel Kao
Gloucester Pavilion in Gloucester Industrial Estates, Langley. Designed by Jordan A. Grubner and Rachel Kao. Image Credit: Rachel Kao

Courses such as the Directed Studies and Design Build programs hosted by SALA help get student projects off the drawing board and into reality. Previous examples include projects on Gambier Island, and pavilions for TED Vancouver Conferences.

Jordan and Rachel describe the project:

The purpose of the project was to create a multi-use gathering space situated within an industrial warehouse complex within Gloucester Industrial Estates, in the Township of Langley. A lack of outdoor areas suited to provide rest and tranquility for the individuals working in the complex was identified. Through dialogues with the local workers, we discovered a desire to have an area where workers may gather to socialize between shifts, eat lunch, and generally have an space that would provide an escape from the loud and invasive industrial happenings around them. We found that transient truck drivers especially were interested in an area to wait for their delivery that was not the inside of their truck cab.

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We desired a simple and straightforward structure that would rely mostly on its own material composition as the main form of its structure and stability. Therefore, 2×6 Hem-Fir wood planks were selected as our building material. A stacking and layering method was adopted as the means we would create the forms we desired.

Rintala Eggertsson’s wooden structure for the 2010 Architecture Biennale Venice Celebration strongly influenced our design process, as it encompassed many of the design and construction principles that we were looking to use for our own project. We particularly liked her use of local timber and the simple, yet effective, stacking of the wood members to create a strong and compelling form. We also drew inspiration by her use of stepping back certain members of lumber to create through-holes and openings.

We also drew inspiration from the University Of Oregon School Of Architecture’s Burn Box, which was assembled for the purpose of providing a semi-sheltered area for smokers. Once again, the simplicity yet effectiveness of stacking wood and layering the members in ways that contributed to the overall form of the structure proved successful in this design. We especially liked the aesthetic produced by the naturally weathered texture of the wood used for the project.

Precedent Projects

Construction on the pavilion was sponsored by Dunbar Lumber, who supplied the timber at cost. Over 150 2×4 members were used, ranging from 6-12 feet in length. The lumber was treated with an anti-fouling clear coat before assembly. Zinc screws were used to secure the lumber in place, however the sheer weight of all of the pieces alone was sufficient to provide the structural stability needed in order to achieve this design.

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James is an architect and writer from Vancouver, British Columbia with a passion for affordable housing, public space, design, and the Pacific Northwest. James has worked on architecture projects across the lower mainland and has written for Canadian Architect, Objekt International, and Price Tags. He holds a Masters in Architecture from the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design and a Bachelors of Applied Science in Civil-Structural Engineering from the University of Waterloo. James has been an AIBC architectural awards jury member, has served on UBC SALA Thesis Committee, and was awarded a special mention in the Urbanarium's Missing Middle competition. He lives in Gastown with his wife Errin, a cool optometrist responsible for his maple glasses.